Rixin Li

About Me

Welcome to my HomePage! I recently (Aug 2020) obtained my Ph.D. degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics at Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, where I completed my thesis on planetesimal formation and dust evolution in protoplanetary disks advised by Prof. Andrew Youdin. Since Oct 19th, 2020, I officially joined Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CCAPS) to work with Prof. Dong Lai. You can find my CV at here (a bit outdated, will update soon).

Photo of Me

I grew up in Fuzhou, Fujian, China. "Fuzhou" literally means "Blessed Settlement" or "Blessed District". It is a beautiful, lovely city with more than 2000 years of history.

In 2007, I went to Fuzhou No.1 High School, where I joined the Astronomy Club. There is a really awesome amateur-level observatory and a planetarium in our campus. With them, I began to learn the beauty of astronomy and wanted to know more about it. So when I was admitted to Peking University in 2010, I chose Astronomy as my major without hesitation.


My Work

The general topic of my research is planet formation and dust evolution in protoplanetary disks.

In the past few years, I have been using numerical methods to simulate the formation of planetesimals, which are super-kilometer building-blocks of planets and are made from dusty/icy particles. Most stars in the universe are born surrounded by gaseous protoplanetary disks, where planetesimal formation takes place as embedded dust particles collide and grow to even larger pebbles. Those pebbles then form self-gravitating clumps due to collective instabilities (e.g., the Streaming Instability) and collapse into planetesimals. Since dust is the raw material to form planetesimals, its evolution directly impacts what type of planets can form and affect the final architecture of planetary systems. Thus, I'm also studying the distribution and transportation of solid particles in protoplanetary disks.

In our solar system, Kuiper Belt objects, asteroids, meteorites, and comets are remnants of primitive planetesimals. By investigating planetesimal formation, we can better understand the evolutionary history of the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt, which will further provide some insights on drafting the formation stories of planets in our solar system. In addition, modern telescopes and instruments (e.g., Atacama Large Millimeter Array) have dramatically expanded our vision to observe the protoplanetary disks of nearby stars. Our numerical studies will have broad implications and provide theoretical contexts for understanding those observations.

Take a look at my CV or check out my publications on ADS.


Feel free to contact me.

933 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85721